Prednisone cancer treatment

Prednisone chemical structure

The steroid prednisone is a man-made analogue of a hormone already produced by our bodies in the adrenal glands.

Drug profile

  • Class: Glucocorticosteroid
  • Mechanism of action: As an anti-cancer medication, prednisone isn't well understood. It appears to induce cell death in cancerous white blood cells, and as an anti-inflammatory it may prevent additional swelling around tumors.
  • Treatment type: NA
  • US approval: 1955
  • Synonyms: Deltasone, Prednisone Intensol
  • FDA Use-in-Pregnancy Rating: Not rated

What Prednisone is effective for and why

Prednisone features prominently in the treatment of blood cancers, including multiple myeloma, both acute and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, as well as Hodgkins and non-Hodgkins lymphomas, in which it can be found as an orally ingested aspect of several combination chemotherapy regimens, including BEACOPP, MOPP, CVP, CHOP and R-CHOP. The drug has also been explored as therapy against prostate cancer. As mentioned its precise role in treating these blood cancers is not known, but prednisone has proven to be effective as an anti-cancer aspect of these regimens, and it also helps to stem some feelings of nausea as well as promote an appetite.

Prednisone side effects: Overview

Each patient will have his or her own experiences with the side effects of prednisone. However, patients need to be aware of some of the potential effects of this drug, such as susceptibility to infection (it suppresses the immune system); fluid retention and feeling bloated; stomach irritation; delay in the healing of wounds; increased appetite and weight gain; increased blood glucose levels; headaches, and dizziness.

Provided one hasn't taken prednisone for an extended period of time (longer than a year, for example), most if not all of these side effects should subside when one is finished taking the drug. Patients are encouraged to report all side effects to their oncologist or oncology team.


  • Boyiadzis, Michael M. et al. Hematology-Oncology Therapy. 2007. New York: McGraw Hill, Medical Publishing Division.
  • Guide to Cancer Drugs, American Cancer Society
  • Perry, Michael C, Editor. Companion Handbook to the Chemotherapy Sourcebook. 1999. Baltimore; Williams & Wilkins.
  • Prednisone

Significant studies relating to prednisone


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